Opting Out Of Mothers’ Day

It’s always helpful when Hallmark can give us a clue about whom to appreciate and when. Oh is it time for that one day a year when we acknowledge mothers? Nope, no, it’s next week. Don’t do it today, it’s the wrong day. Don’t buy yourself flowers, do not book a massage and put that turkey down, that’s another holiday. Wait until that random day in May to be grateful for your mom, and have your kids value you. And then at midnight, don’t forget to slip back into the rags you sport for the rest of the year. Which is why I’m opting out. I do not want flowers (which is helpful because nor will I get any) I do not want to go to a “Mother’s Day brunch” where they jack up the price like they do on Valentine’s. In fact, I did lots of food shopping yesterday to ensure that I would not have to leave the house on Mothers’ Day in Malibu, and face yet another bleary-eyed mom receiving her one dutiful lunch a year. Fuck. That. We’ll eat in.

As a soon to be divorced parent, I am not entitled to the gifts-from-the-kids-that-are-really-from-daddy that masquerade as children’s thoughtfulness. Luckily, the school forces them to make a card. I imagine the teacher, “You can’t go to recess unless you make that card for your mom,” as the kids groan in protest. I already got one from the nine-year-old, and it was adorable—a small orange rectangle of cardboard that said “I love you with all my heart” with some hearts drawn around it in pencil and I love it! It meant almost as much to me as a couple of weeks ago, when we went to a restaurant and apropos of nothing, my kid wrote “I will love you forever” on a dinner napkin and gave it to me. I cried in public, embarrassing my children yet again, then cried again later when I realized I’d lost the napkin somewhere between the restaurant and the market where we went to get ice cream afterwards. There’s a lot of crying involved in parenting, not least of it by the kids.

I do not need the acknowledgement of my children at this point. Unlike some other things in my life, I do not parent for applause. (I would gladly take applause after housework though.) If you waited for a standing ovation from your kids anytime you did something for them, you might still be waiting as rigor mortis claimed you. I get affection, love and spontaneous bursts of gratitude from my two boys daily, and I grab on to these sporadic surges like a dying woman in the desert. However, I do not require them. Acknowledgement is not appropriate from kids, but I demand consideration, because I’m going to send them into the world one day; they don’t get to be rude little punks who don’t listen, or who think it’s normal that a woman slaves away for them while they sit on their butts and do nothing. It’s a karmic thing—I raise kids who are not assholes, and perhaps I will encounter less of them in my daily life.

I do what I do as a parent because I do it. I show up, and cook, and obsess about whether I handled situations correctly, because what’s the alternative? Getting into my car, driving away, and letting them starve? Believe me, I’ve been tempted, especially during the crying and whining years. I don’t even know how I endured it all honestly. I recently got my first tattoo, and anyone who tells you it doesn’t hurt is lying, but it still wasn’t as painful as being a parent. The pain of the needle is finite; parenting is forever. Worrying that your kid will stay healthy and happy never ends, but the good news is that when they are doing well, so is flow the gratitude, and you get to keep that as a little parenting “perk.” It’s a gratitude so profound, it can only lead to more crying.

Motherhood is such a thankless job that if they advertised it, no one would apply. In the recent viral video #worldstoughestjob kids given a description of what is involved in parenting were incredulous. Billed as a Director or Operations, it promised twenty-four hours a day, no sitting down, and you would only eat and sleep at the behest of your “associate.” And all for no pay? “Isn’t that illegal?” demands one entitled millennial. It’s cute, and might make you blubber for a minute and totally make you call your mom, until you find the next really cool cat meme, at which point it will recede into the back of your consciousness normally reserved for other Internet dust-balls.

As my friend and educator, producer, actor and all round DILF Luis Moro says, we all have to step into our role as “professional parents” to claim a sense of empowerment. He also believes it is not advisable to qualify parenting as the most important thing you do, but rather to lead by the example of your life.

Is parenting my first priority? Unequivocally. Every decision I make is filtered through the prism of how it will effect my kids, which may explain why I’m still living in the same house as my ex-husband so I can better co-parent with him, and also why I’m often furious. But parenting is as important as my creative goals, and aspirations, my soul’s dreams and desires and everything else involved in being a human working on some kind of positive trajectory of forward growth, and for those, as for motherhood, one day of celebration is not enough.

Do you know what I want for Mothers’ Day? I want to get back into acting on stage, as this has fallen by the wayside in recent years and I love it with all my heart, and believe it or not it is another thing I don’t care if ends in applause. Also I’d like a boyfriend under thirty that I can have TONS of sex with, who will also inspire, challenge and adore me, and whom I eventually won’t have to hide from my kids. That would be nice, please do send him right over, Hallmark… And another tattoo. Eventually, if I keep on my current course, I’m sure I will have all three of these things. The one thing I do not need to get is a tattoo of anything to do with parenting. “MOM for life” on my bicep is not necessary, because that shit is already grafted bone deep and there is no process to remove it, even on days when I might wish there were…

12 comments

  1. My earliest memory of Mothers Day was being told I wasn’t allowed to make a card by my 1st grade teacher, due to the fact my mother had died the previous January. From that point on I never acknowledged the day and I resented people that did. That all changed once I was a parent. By that I mean my resentment focused on my kids mother. She thought Mothers Day was the 11th commandment. She also thought Fathers Day was pure bullshit. ( she was right about that but..whatever).
    I have never needed Russel & Stover to tell me about me or my parenting skills. I’m sure for Fathers Day I’ll get some FB post from one of my sons and that’ll be nice. I guess. So I don’t blame you one bit for opting out. And as for Mrs. Soukup, my old 1st grade teacher? She moved on to that blackboard in the sky , where hopefully my mother is berating her.

    • Wow this is a powerful, powerful comment. I love the connections you make with the past, the present and your own kids. How awful for that teacher not to let you make a card- could have sent that bitch a therapy bill before she passed on.

  2. Your idea of skipping mothers day on this day is a outstanding idea i praise my mom all year round i do not need someone to tell me when to Love my mom . you are one the few people that speakthe truth you are awesome Susanna

  3. I want to thank Susanna Brisk of the MILF Academy for bestowing me the DILF award. I’m honored with lots and lots and lots of energy. I’m equally honored for her acknowledging my book. I also don’t believe parenting is the most important thing I do. I think it’s more important to be an example, that our children can contrast life with. Saying we do it all for our children is a recipe for missing the mark on raising fully-functioning, self-determining children. Here’s what I write about it… From the book. “I AM a Professional Parent”

    “Raising our children while we are living inside the consolation prize ‘I do it all for my kids’ is a set up for our children leaving home the first chance they can. This ‘I do it all for you’ is a verbal poison that could apply to any relationship we are in.

    Consider that healthy relationships are designed to fulfill futures, answer to life, expand life, and not be right about the past no matter what the past seemed like.

    When it comes to parenting children, it’s wiser for parents to focus on the – future’s life – of their children, even if the past you seek to keep alive or get rid of was a just minute ago. Let it go, the future always tastes better to children.”

  4. […] So much as we love your cake, we want to say, and much as every one of our dads may be lovely chaps overall (parenting can be a complete shit-sandwich so we hold no grudge) but forgive us if we do not participate in your mythologizing of the male parent. It is like the 30-year sober alcoholic giving themselves mad props for (still) not drinking. Once a year, sure, but mostly in life, you rarely get any points for just “showing up.” […]

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